As SunEdison Struggles, It Sheds Its Japanese Solar Arm

SunEdison Interconnects 16.4 Megawatt Solar Power Plant for Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Photo Credit: Davis-Monthan Air Force. (PRNewsFoto/SunEdison) THIS CONTENT IS PROVIDED BY PRNewsfoto and is for EDITORIAL USE ONLY**
Photograph by AP/PRNewsFoto/SunEdison

Thai oil and energy company Bangchak plans to acquire the Japanese solar division of clean energy company SunEdison for about $82 million, according to local Thai media and a filing with the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

The news comes after SunEdison’s (SUNE) stock has dropped over 90% over the past nine months from $33.45 per share over the summer to $3.02 at Monday’s close.

Last year, SunEdison went on a shopping spree and snapped up wind companies, a big solar panel installer, a battery solar startup and more. Following the aggressive expansion, SunEdison’s stock cratered, and in recent weeks the company announced an expensive plan to boost its balance sheet and soothe investors.

Solar panels power SunEdison solar water pumps, which help farmers in India increase crop yield and improve food security. (PRNewsFoto/SunEdison) Photograph by AP/PRNewsFoto/SunEdison
Photograph by AP/PRNewsFoto/SunEdison

Now the company appears to be selling off assets to help prop up its business. Beyond the news that SunEdison will sell its Japanese solar division, the company has reportedly been shopping around one of its acquisitions, the large solar installer Vivint Solar, before the Vivint deal is set to close in the coming months.

Over the past few years, oil company Bangchak has been growing its clean energy division. According to the Bangkok Post, Bangchak plans to acquire two to three additional clean energy companies or projects, in the first half of 2016, and has up to $280 million allocated to buy clean energy assets this year. Additionally, Bangchak’s clean energy division plans to hold an initial public offering this year.

Why Wall Street is not in love with solar energy:

SunEdison’s Japanese solar arm owns solar panel farm contracts in Japan worth the equivalent of 198 megawatts of capacity, which is enough energy to power tens of thousands of homes. These solar farms are in various stages of development.

For years, Japan was one of the biggest markets for solar panels as the country sought to add more clean power after it shut down its nuclear reactors following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Last summer, solar power contributed about 10% of Japan’s power demand during peak times, like on hot summer days.

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But at the end of 2014, Japanese utilities started to push back as they struggled to incorporate the new energy source. In early 2015, the country decided to cut an important policy that paid solar producers for the energy they generated. Japanese utilities also have more recently been empowered to refuse to connect some solar projects to the grid in certain cases.

Now solar companies operating in the country are lowering their sales forecasts. And Japan has started turning its nuclear reactors back on to make up for its lack of energy supply.

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